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A REVIEW OP THE PHYSICAL SCIFNCE STUDY
eommn high school ^iysics co psf
STEPHEN W. DAESCHNER
B.S., Baker University, 1961+
A K ASTER'S REPORT
submitted in oartial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree
WASTER OP SCIENCE
College of Education
KANS&S STATE UWIfHSXfT
I a j or Professor
The author wishes to express his sincere appreciation
to Dr. Ronald Anderson, Assistant Professor of Education,
Kansas State University. His suggestions in planning and
comoleting the report have been most helpful.
TABU OF CONTENTS
THF PROBLEM 3
Statement of the Problem ••••• •• 3
Importance of the Study . • k
Procedures Fnrployed in the Study. •••••••• l±
BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PHYSICAL
SCIENCE STUDY COHKIYTH COURSE 5
Organization of the Physical Science
Study Co*.'---"ittee ......... 5
Why and How the Physical Science Study
Committee Developed Its Course ....... 10
The Physical Science Study Committee Course • • • 22
COMMENTS AND OPINIONS IB ■ r i' TH :>ICAL
SCIENCE STUDY COMMITTEE COURSE ........... 25
A REVIEW OF RESEARCH AND EVALUATIONS CONDUCTED ON
THF PHYSICAL SClBBCI STUDY GGK&Ttm COURSE . ... 33
SUGARY AND CONCLUSIONS 60
BIBLIOGRAPHY . 6£
Since the early years of the 20th century, the natural
sciences have undergone two distinct and consequential changes.
First, the sciences themselves have r-.rown enormously , both In
technique and In depth. Mext, science has become inextricably
interwoven with our daily life* l odern man whether he la aware
of It or not f lives his life in constant aseociation with methods
of scientific research an*- 1 consequences of scientific research.
In business , legislation, and statesmanship ■
the scientist increasingly is called upon to helo
unravel the social nnd economic l^ollcatlon of
science. But beyond Its technological goods and
meaning, science as a humanistic study stands on
its wn terms as a dynamically stable system with
Its own ends and precedural st^lc. As a form of
human exoresslon, it is one of the triumphs of
the intellect. It lends oerspeotive and direction
to the other asoects of life. It is a system one
can ill afford to ignore If one is. to become a
whole man in a world of whole men. 1
The teaching of high school physics has received con-
siderable attention during recent years due to accelerated
technological and scientific advancement and a recognition
on the o»rt of teachers, administrators, and laymen of the
vital role that science will play in the future of our
country. The traditional neterlals and methods of teaching
1 011bert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study
Co" lttee," School Review, 70:6I±, Spring, 1962.
high school physics have been severely criticised by some
people In responsible positions. For example, Flbert P.
There Is a powerful Intellectual discontent
with the present status of science teaching; the
scientists, the teachers, and the educated laymen
are all disturbed by the discontent that science
teaching does not fairly represent science « x
Because of this criticism, a multimillion-dollar program for
the revision of the high school physics curriculum was under-
taken by the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) under a
grant from the National Science Foundation. The Committee
was organized in November of 1956 to devise a modern course
in ohysics for the secondary school and to prepare materials
for the course.
During the 1957-58 school year, the PSSC course was
offered in eight schools in the United States. Since this
time the number of schools teaching the course has risen
sharply. "There are approximately 5,000 teachers using the
PSSC program during the 196L-65 school year with around
200,000 students. This is aoproxlmately 50 per cent of the
secondary school students in the U.S.A. enrolled in ohysics." 2
x Elbert P. Little, "From the Beginning," Science
Teacher , 21+ : 31 8, November, 1958.
^Educational Services Incorporated Newsletter ,
(Watertown, Massachusetts i Fducatlonal Services Incoroorated,
January, 1965), $. k*
In 196l4.-65> f fifty-three teachers in Kansas used the PSSC
There has been wide controversy over the effectiveness
of the course* For example, some teachers feel the course is
not teaching enoufh ohysics to r»lve the students the back-
ground they need for college physics courses and therefore*
does not prepare students for college work as well as a con-
ventional high school physics course. There have also been
opinions stated by some teachers that the PSSC course is a
revolution in the teaching of science and will make physics
a more meaningful course in the secondary school.
This study was designed to make an objective evaluation
of the effectiveness of the PSSC course in the secondary schools.
S t atone nt of the problem The puroose of this study
io to answer the following questions:
1. Why and how was the ^SSC course developed?
2. What are the opinions of teachers and educators
icerninfr the course?
3. Are the objectives formulated by the Committee
being achieved by the students taking the PSSC course?
1 letter from Warren J. Bell, Fducation Consultant of
Science and I nthenatics, 'ansas Stato Fepartment of Public
Instruction, Tooeka, Kansas.
Importance of the study . Because of the wide diversity
of opinion among teachers and educators on the MUM program,
and the fact that many schools are using the program or are
considering nutting the Drogram into their curriculum, the
author has undertaken this study to determine, if oossible,
if the objectives of the Committee have been reached.
Procedures employed in the study . The author collected
his data for this report from all pertinent articles, papers,
newsletters, dissertations, theses, and books that could be
located. Most of the material used was located at Kansas State
University library, Kansas University library, or was obtained
through interlibrary loans, and correspondence with Educational
Services Incorporated, Kansas State Department of Education,
8nd the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The
materials are organized into the following categories for
1. Background and development of the PSSC course.
2. Opinions of teachers end educators on the effec-
tiveness of the p SSC course.
3« Research studies to determine the effectiveness
of the p SSC course.
ij.. Summaries and conclusions regarding the PSSC
course for secondary school physics curriculum.
IdOHOtflD PUT DFVFLOPMFNT OP TB
PHYSICAL SCIFNCE STUDY CO^'ITTEE COURSE
A historical study of the inception nnd development of
the ?SSC was made In order to better understand the ohilos-
ophy end underlyincr beliefs of the committee members • The
following oagec also point to the objectives formulated by
The organization of the Physical Science Study Committee .
The PS?C began formal operations in November, 19£6. The
formation of the committee was made possible by e r^rant of
$303,000 from the National Science Foundation to the Massa-
chusetts Institute of Technology. An additional grant of
$1!4.2,000 was made by the National Science Foundation In August,
19 c '7» In October, 19E>7 further grants were made by: the
National Science Foundation, #300,000; the Ford Foundation,
$£00,000; the Fund for the Advancement of Education, $200,000;
and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 325>0,000. As of January 1,
19£8, the ?SSC had expended *6l4.9, 000, By September 30, 19£8,
the PSSC had spent an additional f 1,0)4.5, 700. The budget
established for the fiscal year October 1, 1959 to October 1,
1959 was ?2, 600, 000.3 I'he total cost of revision during the
1 First Annual Report of the Physical Science Study
Committee , (Watertown f iTassacnu setts: The Committee, January ,
WPTi p. 13.
period 19^6-1961 was «o proximately six million dollars,
exclusive of teacher-retraining costs which came to approxi-
mately an equal sum. Continuing costs of the PSSC are pres-
ently running at a level of #300, 000 per year.
The first steps in the development of the committee
were informal discussion groups which were formed in and
around Boston. These groups developed tentative outlines
for a new physics course. The discussions were stimulated
primarily by ftr. Jerrold R. Zacharias of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.
Concurrently with these informal discussion groups,
in and around Boston, some essential work was being carried
on by the American Institute of Physics, the American
Association of Physics Teachers, and the National Science
Teacaers* Association. Tnese groups were actively engaged
in a study of the traditional physics textbooks being used
throughout the United States.
With this kind of informal beginning, the committee's
work gained impetus with the first grant from the National
Science Foundation in November of 1956. ihe newly formed
* Jerrold R. Zacharias and Stephen White, "The Require'
ments for Major Curriculum Revision, 1 * School and Society ,
92:67* February 22, 1964.
Elbert 9 . Little, "The Physical Science Study
Committee," Harvard Educational Review , 29:1, inter, 195>9»
Physical MltBe* Study CoKu:ittee, directed by Jerrold R.
Zacharias, Flbert P. Liltle, end Francis L. Friedman, held
its first major planning conference on December 10, 11, 12,
1956 • This conference was held et the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ihe committee met
to discuss and to plan iioroved and modernized courses in
physical science for secondary schools. Forty-eight committee
members were in attendance , representing more than twelve
universities* government agencies, and commercial laboratories.
Following this meeting several of the centers prepared out-
lines and preliminary drafts to be presented in a conference
during the summer of 1957 at the Massachusetts Institute of
During this summer conference of 1957* university
physicists worked with high school physics teachers from
many oarts of the country along with specialists in such
fields as testing, film-making, educational administration,
and editorial production. All parts of the program were
started, but the textbook and laboratory were given priority
so that enough material would be available to use in courses
the coming year.
*"A Planning Conference P.eoort: ihe Physical Science
fctudy Committee, w Physics Today , 10:28, March, 1957.
^Gilbert C. Finlay, "The niysical Science Study
Committee," School Review, 70:72, Spring, 1962.
rurirr* the 1957- c '8 school year eight teachers used
the preliminary versions with about three hundred students
participating. This first year of experience with the course
was veil scceoted by the teachers using '-he course. m i'he
•J h% teachers who used the course in 1957-58 claimed thei
would never return to the •OBfOttt tonal text apein." 1 Teachers
and students were enthusiastic and found the course stimulating,
The results of the preliminary achievement tests user* that
year indicated that the students attained the e'esired levels.^
However, the shopping for the laboratory equipment by the
teachers, and construction of this equipment by the students
was both lengthy *nd costl- . Because of this the co/rdttee
turned to the development of easily assembled kits of preformed
Tn the summer of 1958 t I proximately three hundred
hi<rh school ohysics teachers attended five national Science
adatlon Summer Institutes at which the PS8C corse was
the subject of etudy.3 The orelimlnary coarse materials were
supplied without cost to any of these teachers who desired
to use them the following year. Turing the 1953-59 school
^-Randolnh Jance, "The Six New Science Curricul ims,"
School Management , 7? 63, June, 1963 •
^Gilbert C. Finis.;, Thi ''hysical Science Study
ittce >" School Review , 70:73, Spring, 1962*
^Flbert t* Little, "The Physical Science tttttf] Com-
mittee," Harvard r ducat lonal Review j 29o» Winter, 1959.
year 12,500 students In 286 schools in the United States
were taught the new physics course.
The new course materials used during the 1958-59
school year included a preliminary textbook, teacher's guide,
laboratory program, a few films, and a set of ten achievement
tests. ^ All the feedback information from the teachers that
used the materials was accumulated and used to revise the
textbook and other materials. Also, during this school year
a non-profit organization, Educational Services Incorporated,
was created to assume the administration of the PSSC-*
During the summer of 1959 about seven hundred teachers
studied the course in fifteen institutes. For the 1959-60
school year the course materials were provided at cost to
the schools that wished to use them. About 560 teachers
and 22,500 students used the materials. Of the teachers
that had used the course the previous year, 96 per cent
elected to continue with the PSSC.^ Except for the films*
a complete set of preliminary materials was on hand.
^"Frederick L. Ferris, Jr., "The Physical Science Study
Committee: will It Succeed?," Harvard Fducatlonel Review ,
29:32, Winter, 1959.
2 Gilbert C. Flnlay, "The Physical Science Study Com-
mittee," School Review , 70:7lj.# Spring, 1962.
^Annual Report of the Educational Testing Service for
the Year 1953-59 (Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing
Service), p. 15 •
^•Finlay, oj>. clt ., p. 75»
Puring the 19^9-60 school year, the Committee's major
effort was directed to a complete revision of ell printed
materials and the design changes appropriate to the commercial
production of kits of laboratory apparatus . By the fall of
I960 the textbooks, laboratory guidebooks, apparatus, teats,
films, and teachers' guidebooks had been turned over to
commercial supoliers and were available to all teachers who
During 1960-61 the course was used by about eleven
hundred teachers with lj5,000 students. In 1962, 20 per cent
of all students taking high school physics in the United States
were using the ?SSC materials and by 196!j. this percentage had
risen to 50 per cent.
Why and how the Physical Science Study Committee
developed its course .
In content, the traditional (or conventional)
course imitates the introductory physics course
in college. Applications of physics to technology
are stressed rather heavily. Problem-solving,
ranging from the simple exercises in substituting
data into a formula to more demanding tasks, is a
part of the course. Laboratory exercises are
usually of the highly organized variety called
"cookbook" experiments .3
lGilbert C. Flnlay, "The Physical Science Study
Committee, * School Review , 70:73>, Spring, 1962.
2 W. C. Kelly, Survey of Education in ^hyslcs in
Universities of the United States , (Hew York; American
Institute of "Physics , 19614. ) p • 10 •
3 Ibid., p. 11.
For the purpose of this paper the author will use the
term traditional or conventional to refer to any physics
course being taught on the secondary level other than the
Physical Science Study Committee course* The conventional
texts today are built around Newtonian mechanics* The course
begins with statics, goes on to kinematics and dynamics, and
In the light of these disciplines undertakes to explain, one
after another, heat, light, and sound* 1 There was a feeling
by rzsny educators before 19!>5 that such an organization was
beyond criticism; it had logical unity and reflected both the
current state of knowledge and general attitude of the
"In the years that have passed, physics has thrust out
wider roots an<5 borne unimaginably richer fruits, like quantum
theory, relativity, and nucleus and subnueleus of the atom*" 2
Because Newtonian mechanics rapidly ceased to serve as a
unifying concept, the subject compartmentalized and physics
became several distinct and disconnected subjects such as
mechanics, optics, heat, sound, and others*
Since none of these could be covered adequately In
the time at the teacher's disposal, the temptation grew to shift
Elbert ?. Little, n From the Beginning, n Science
Teacher , 2!j.:3l6, November, 19£7*
2 Ibid., p. 317.
the emphasis from the science, which in many cases was not
beinr taught, to the technology* This helped students under-
stand oractical applications they could observe, as an
internal combustion engine, a refrigerator, a radio, and even
a sDace shin* More and more the teachers were teaching a
subject the scientists did not even recognize as science*
The informal co^'ittee of 1956 came to the following
conclusions about the traditional high school physics
1* Textbooks in general reflected a scientific
outlook that dated back half a century and was no
longer representative of the views of the scientific
2* Genuine attempts to remain abreast of sci-
entific develooments had given even the best text-
books a patchwork quality in which the unity of
3» The sheer mass of material in the textbooks
had become so great that it could no longer be
re&sonably taught in an academic year or even in
U.» With the increasing application of science
in everyday environment, physics textbooks had
given over more and more of their attention to
technology, thus further overloading the course
and further minimising the concepts of science
itself, and Its unity**
Meanwhile, as the syllabus had come to be steadily
less representative of the subject matter, the need had
become greater* A large and constantly increasing proportion
1 Elbert P* Little, "From the Beginning," Science
Teacher , 2k' 317, November, 1957*
2 Flrgt Annual Report of the Physical Science Study
C o mr i i 1 1 ee (Watertown, ? assacEusetts : The Committee ,""
January, 1958), p* 3*
of high school students were going on to make careers of
science and engineering. The rest, whether businessmen
or skilled laborers, could almost certainly expect to come in
contact with science. 3ut in the face of these realities,
secondary school curricula failed to make science a meaningful
oart of general education. "Misapprehensions about science
In the public mind have become one of the principal reasons
why we have today, too few students studying scientific
careers, and too few teachers competent to teach science."*
In summary the 19£6 problems in science involved:
1. A recognition of the real significance of
science In our modern world.
2. The need for a change in attitude toward
scienoe and the necessity for reducing the gap
between the eclences and humanities.
3» The develooment of a truly new curriculum
which cannot be done by accretion, but which must
be done by a total and complete reorganization
which will also orovide for the development of
a high degree of scientific literacy among the
rank and file of our peoole.
14.. A necessary change in attitude towards
teaching at all levels with a view of recog-
nizing its imoortance and its Droblems and
with a dedicated effort toward the solution of
these oroblems, while at the same time retaining
and expanding our efforts in the creation of
Animated by an outlook such as this, the PSSC was
Albert P. Little, "From the Beginning, " Science
Teacher , 2U?3l8* November, 1957«
2 Ibid ., o. 3I6.
^Addison F. Lee, "Current Problems in Science Education,"
Science Education, 1^9:1^0, March, 196£.
organized to seek ways of giving this outlook expression
In the high school curriculum. Therefore, the original
statement of the Committee's alms was:
1. To olan a course of study in which the
major develooments of physics, up to the present
time, are presented as a logical and integrated
2. To oresent ohysics as an intellectual and
cultural pursuit which is part of oresent-day
human activity and achievement;
3. To assist physics teachers by ":eans of
various teaching aids to carry out the proposed
As an initial target, the Committee chose to design
a new course to fit into the current pattern of the high
school curriculum. The Committee addressed itself to the
oreparation of a one year ohysics course for the students who
are currently taking physics. These students make up about
one-fourth of the high school population, drawn mostly from
the uooer half in achievement and aptitude, and include a
large number who are not seeking a career in science.
The Committee decided to plan a course dealing with
ohysics as an explanatory system, a system that extends from
the domain inside the atom to distant galaxies. The course
was designed to tell a unified story— one in which the
successive topics are chosen and develooed to lead toward
1 Leo F. Klopfer, "The p hysiea Course of the Physical
Science Study Committee: A View from the Classroom, n Harvard
Educational Review , 29:26, Winter, 1959*
^Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics,
23:2^7, March, I960.
an atomic oicture of matter, its motions and interrelations*
The aim was to oresent a view of physics that would bring
a student close to the nature of modern physics and to the
nature of ohysioal inquiry* The student should see ohysics
as an unfinished and continuing activity* For example, ideas
about waves and oarticles keep reoccurring, each time to be
carried further in a higher synthesis of ideas*
This coherent, searching character of Man's
aporoach to building an explanatory structure
of the ohysical world is one of the course's
principle aims and caief pedagogical characteristics* 2
It was also decided that the course would be directed toward
familiarizing the student with two central notions of modern
physics, the wave particle duality and the modern concept
of the atora*^ The Committee attempts to develoo scientific
ohysics from the ground up with nothing being handed down
from high authority* The course is built to read like a
novel, with a continuous building of physical concepts*
The oroblem was to create enough comorehension to generate
the motivation for wading through tough logical sequences
^Gilbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study
Committee," School Review , 70:61*, Spring, 1962*
2 0ilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics:
Physical Science Study Committee," American Journal of
?hyglcs , 2fl:292, March, I960*
3jerrold R* Zacharias and Stephen White, "The
Requirements for Major Curriculum Re vis ion, " School
and Society , 92:67, February 22, I96I4..
end develop a genuine interest in scientific ideas and
The student is expected to be an active Participant
in thia course. The student is expected to wrestle with a
line of inquiry, including his own laboratory investigations,
that lead to basic ideas*
The fundamental idees are brought out partially
in the students work on end-of -chapter problems,
but Tore importantly the ideas are brought out
aequentially through using those ideas which are
introduced early to illuminate ot.ier ideas in a
chain that comorises an introduction of the
structure of physical
No one-year course in physics can give an adequate
account of both an exoanding physics and the related
technology. The Committee therefore, chose for its subject
matter the big overarching ideas of ohysics; those that con-
tribute most to contemporary physicists' views of the nature
of the physical world • Through its material the Committee
seeks to convey those asoects of science which have the
deepest meaning, the widest applicability, and the greatest
power for further thought and activity. Because of thia
feeling, some of the long familiar topics in secondary school
^-Parrel W. Tomer, "New Physios Course for High Schools
Fevelooed by the "SSC," California Journal of Secondary
Fducatlon , 33*^93* December, 1959 •
2 Gllbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study
Committee, " School Review , 70:65, Spring, 1962.
3Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School p hysics:
Physical Science Study Committee," American Journal of
Physics, 261287, March, 1960.
sics arc not central to the overarching view sought in
the P SSC course, and as a result, do not appear in the course.
In attempting to transmit those ideas and styles of thought
that have the broadest apolicability, the Committee judged
it wise to shift the emphasis in secondary school physics
away from technology toward a deeper exploration of basic
ideas and the nature of inquiries* Technological application
has not been eliminated fron the course, but it has been cut
back sharply from its previous role* The reduced emphasis
on technology does not imply disapproval any more than the
reduced dependence upon trigonometry implies disapproval of
mathematics. This technology was at the forefront of sci-
entific im'estigation several centuries ago, but now it does
not shed as much light on our present day picture of the
physical world as does a study of waves and particles.
Perhaos one of the text's most distinctive character-
istics is its technique of attempting to build familiarity
with the substructure of the concepts of physics, rather
than assert principles, then show applications. The course
exoloree oarts of optics, mechanics, and atomic physics more
deeoly than usual in order to show how a field of thought
barrel W. Tomer, "Hew Physics Course for High Schools:
Developed by the P SSC," California Journal of Secondary
Education , 33 :1^9U# December, 195o".
^Gilbert C« Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics ,
2B:292, March, I960.
In summary, the principles underlying the coarse
are the following:
1. The Com- ittee seeks to oresent ohysics
as an intellectual activity, rather than as a
body of rules for the control or the manipula-
tion of natural phenomena.
2. The Committee seeks to reflect in its
course the spirit of inquiry.
3* The course reflects, as much as oossible,
the world of physics as it appears to the profes-
sional pfcytltlftlj "op only In this manner is it
likely to have eny clear relevance to the student
1+. The Committee's course prefers to pre?ent
the traditional subdivisions of ohysics as various
asoects of t single discipline.
5. The nature of the American school system
makes it desirable to create a course which will
be relatively independent of the order and content
of the rest of the secondary school curriculum.
6. The most difficult decision which faced
the ^SSG at the outset of its work was the decision
to omit from the course large areas of nhysics,
and the selection of those areas which would be
A whole br.ttery of techniques is being used to get
the story of physics across to the students. The text attempts
to lay out a coherent framework. Problems and exercises lead
the student into inference and interpretation as well as
practice In elementary reasoning with basic concepts. The
text was developed simultaneously with laboratory experiments;
and, although it was intended that the text should be able to
Isteohen White, "The Physical Science Study Committee:
The Planning and Structure of the Course, " Contemporary
Physics , ?:[|.1-Iv3, October, I960.
2 A. B. Arons, "The New High School Physics Course,"
^hyslcs Today , 13*12* June, I960.
stand as nearly as possible on its own, it was written with
laboratory work in mind. The laboratory orogram includes
about fifty experiments in all and ten of these experiments
are done in modern physics.
Since laboratory work is used as a tool contributing
to the generation of ideas, the laboratory is designed to
give the student an opportunity for personal discovery. The
exDerlments are designed to supoly firm rooting for the
growth of ideas by providing non-verbal contact with rele-
vant data* The experimental situations as they are presented
to the students are "open ended". The basic ideas of the
experiment are carefully discussed, but very few explicit
instructions are given. Students are led to do as much as
possible within a minimum of directing and are urged to
extend the inquiry on their own initiative. The experiments
are both qualitative and quantitative. The most common use
of the laboratory experiment is to introduce a topic or to
contribute to the early stages of its development.
Because the Committee realizes that physics teachers
have a budget to meet, all costs for the laboratory have
been measured in dimes and dollars. "Almost all the apparatus
^■Gilbert C. Finlay, "Secondary School Physics: Physical
Science Study Committee," American Journal of Physics ,
28:292, March, I960.
2 A. B. Arons, "The New High School Physics Course,"
^hysics Today , 13:22, June, I960*
is designed to be built by the students themselves, either
In the laboratory or, in rare instances, In the school 1 s
shop courses." The building of aooarstus is as much a oart
of physics as learning about different concepts. There will
be little the student will use in the school laboratory that
he cannot duolicate in his garage or cellar. There he can
modify, elaborate, or redesign an experience, and set up
"doing ohyelcs" on his own. 2 Also the time taken for con-
striction in the laboratory is small and very rewording. For
examole, in ten minutes a student can make a microbalance out
of two oins, a eoda straw, and a wood screw, with sensitivity
down to twenty micrograms oor millimeter deflection.-*
A great deal of what might ordinarily be called demon-
stration is provided by the films produced by the Committee.
Films are being used to bring to the classroom certain
extended ideas beyond the level of the text and certain key
exper5.ments that are likely to be too difficult, too time
consuming, or too costly for students to perform or for
teachers to demonstrate. Because the films articulate closely
with these resources and most of the film producers assume
that the viewer Is familiar with earlier parts of the course,
^Jerrold R. Zacharias, "Into the Laboratory," Science
Teacher , 2lj.:32i4., November, 1957.
2 Ibid ., p. 325.
■^Harold ^. Knauss, Physics for Secondary Schools,"
••■■lei'lcan Journnl o^ ''hygics , 24 1 379 1 September, 195'-.
the sched.lins o* the films is quite easy* r Ihe films are
intended as take-off points for teachers and students. As
of February, 1965* sixty-five films were available •
The Committee also developed a teacher's guidebook in
order that teachers could outline their class procedures and
as inquisitive questions. Through theso questions, the stu-
dents may find insight into the physical concepts* In addi-
tion to the guidebook, ten standardized tests were developed
to check the progress of the students. As supplementary sources
of authoritative and scientific information, the Committee
developed ■ series of paperback books. The purpose of these
books was to ittpply deeoar meaning to the course and to
cover material omitted froa the course. For example* related
fields like biophysies, technology, the history of physics,
and biographies of noted physicists are covered in the paper-
back books. ■ books are a.) p earing as the "Science Study
Series*, ^s of February, 1961, fifty books had been published
in the series.^
In sumiary, the PS3C developed the following material
for the course j Wxtboo!:, laboratory guide and a sot of new
Gilbert C. Finlay, "The Physical Science Study
Committee," School Review , 70:68, Spring, 1962.
^ Fc::; optional Services Incorporated Newsletter ,
February, 1965* (Watertown, ^assschusetts : Educational
Services Incorporated), p. 7.
and inexpensive apparatus, a large number of films, stan-
dardized teste, a growing eerie? of psoerbaek books by
leaders in related fields, end a comprehensive teacher's
resource book directly releted to the course.
To be retained, each item of subject matter hod to
meet the following criteria:
1. To etrese najor achievement in ohyeiee such
as the great conservation principles.
2. To r>ive insight into the way in which these
powerful ideas were conceived, nurtured, and some-
times over thrown by even more powerful ideas.
3. To present a unified story in which the
inner connections within ohysics were brought to
I;.. To show ohysice as a human ectivity co -
parable in significance with the humanities, the
languages and tho other major studies of high
school students .1
Finally, the Committee recognized that no material
could be teacher-prosjf • The physicists ran summer institutes,
more of them every year, to train teachers. "By the end of
1962, nearly twenty-five hundred teachers, who came into con-
tact with perhaps a quarter of a million students each year,
had spent at least one summer working on the PSSC course ."^
The Physical Science Study Committee Course . The
PSSC course is divided into four major sections. The first
^Elbert P. Little, "The Physical Science Study Com-
mittee," larvard Fducational Review , 29s2, Winter, 19£9*
^Martin ?*ayer, "Scientists In the Classroom,"
Commentary , 35i31lj., April a 1963.
Is with J '. basic concents of wh' ' *ie student trust have
rtd«rf tandlng before he c r Me a worthwhile study of
the ml *ect ^.ntter of yMonce. Time, distance, motion, the
BttttPt of measurement, the «to»it structure of matter, end
the molsculnr lntc-nrct-tlon of cho^ittry t?re the main topics
first section. The presentation is through
neral BOBOaptl "r''- N 'r thai soecific definitions, and the
Bt'.'dent maker scrv tact et once with ^ost of the subject
Iter ;ith which he will desl later in rro- ter depth*
The second oart of the course Is a study of optics and
waves. Ootical phenomena are described first In terms of
rays and then a particle theory is developed to provide a
possible piftto r^ 9t the nature of light « Wnen this model
fails to - }« an explanation of the refraction of li^ht,
concents of wave action are introduced as an alternative
H»6el« B7 stttd; ' ig waves in ropes, eorings, and ripple tanks,
the student is guided to observe the comparison between v;aves
Of tone properties of light. In this way the student should
be able to ore diet some new principles of light through his
experience with waves. The understanding of waves is goneral
3- Physical Science Study Committee » Physics , (Boston:
. C« He sth and Company, i960; p. v«
2 lb Id., p. vl.
enough to allow extension to other areas. "For instance,
the nature and properties of sound, though not stressed in
the course, can be developed by the student because of his
basic understanding of waves." 1
iheae two sections, constituting the first half of the
course, emphasize the kinematics of our universe. Ihe third
section introduces Newton's laws of motion, showing the
relationship between force and -notion and leading to the
extraordinary story of the discovery of universal gravitation.
Conservation laws form a substantial part of this section
of the course and lead naturally to a development of the
kinetic theory of heat as an application of dynamics in this
particular field of physics.
Ihe fourth section includes a careful introduction
of electrical and magnetic phenomena, especially the inter-
actions of charged particles with electric and magnetic
fields .3 The techniques of the electrical and electronic
industries are omitted* but the major experiments of modern
Dhysics are carefully developed. The photoelectric effect,
for examole, requires the return to a particle concept of
1 Elbert ?. Little, "The Physical Science Study
Committee, ; ' Harvard Educational Review , 29:2, 'winter, 19^9.
2 Physical Science Study Committee , "^hysics , (Boston:
P. C. Heath and Comoany, 1960J, p. vi.
3 Ibid., p. vii.
light, with new insights Into the nature of both matter
and 15f?ht.l "The course returns to the study of the atom;
Its discreteness, Its structure, its charges, its nucleus,
and its behavior. "^ Thus, the circle U el*fl«d «nd the student
ft u r ttl to the basic concepts of science with *♦ new understanding
oomaan in ofimiom ibo i ra
PHYSICAL SCIWNCF STCPY 00MKIT1
Because of the difficulty of finding statistical data
on the achievement of the objectives 01 the Committee, the
author felt this section was needed to better understand the
Committee's course. ihis section is designed to rive the
comments ano opinions of teachers and educators both for and
against r>f»rts of the Committee's ^•gWi
One question that is usually considered in reviewing
a book is the language and language structure used. On this
point there seems to be two oooosing opinions. One teacher
believes the language is inoffensively inform**!; *l center
of mass 'sits still', enarres on ins 1, tors are 'nailed down 1 ,
and dark centers of contour oatterns arc 'globs ' • "■' Another
aspect of the Committee's oolicy, with rerard to language,
lElbert ?. Little, "The Physical Science Study
<"o~r-.1t tee," Harv ard ^du cat long! Review, ?9:3, winter, 19^9.
^Thomas P. Miner, "^hysicr? PSSOf" ^mo^i^n Journa l
of ?n?s ics , 29:338, May, 1961.
was the reluctance to use a key word until proDerly defined •
"Because Newton's second law of notion is not treated until
P« 307, the word 'force* is taboo before that. Consequently,
we have until that point, 'pushes', 'shoves', and 'pulls'
galore." Another author believes some of the things that
the students are assumed to know, probably are not known.
For example, on page 18, galaxies are
mentioned but they are not defined until
o. 28. On p. 398 there is mention of "mesons"
and "hyperons". The authors must have been
dreaming to assume that the students know
what these terms mean. 2
Another complaint given regarding language was that
no effort was made to get the students to learn to use the
words and language they should be learning*
In general the problems given in the text
are excellent and logically conceived; but they
fail to create opportunities in which students
recognize and talk about definitions, describe
simple physical events in the technical language
they are learning, articulate lines of reasoning
and logical connections between steps, recognize
In words the idealization imolicit in the han-
dling of a problem.-
Thomas P. Miner, "Physics: PSSC," American Journal
of Physics , 29:338, ' ? ay, 1961.
^Oscar L. Brauer, "Something Dangerously New in
Physics Teaching," Science Fducatlon , i|J:369~70,
^A. B. Arons, "The New High School °hysics Course,"
Physics Today , 13 :25 9 June, I960.
A drawback that was often found concerning the
Committee *e coarse was the lack of enough applications of
orinciples of physics»
T quite a?-ree that nhysics, 1959* should
not be merely a course in technology, but this
should not rule out the teaching of life situ-
ations where a principle being taught may be
applied. One of the best physics teachers I
know continually. stresses, "Physics is the
world about us", 1
All of the physics that is necessary to
enable the student to understand what he sees
about him is avoided. For Instance he wonders
about the electrical refrigerator, the gas
refrigerator, radio, television, and heat
engines. Nothing in the PSSC text will
enlighten him on any of these topics. Even
alternating current snd sound is not discussed
In the text. 2
However, there are some that believe the Committee's
orogram is en answer to a long needed understanding of
By trying to educate for an understanding
of total perspective of science we will naturally
avoid excesses of detail end the cram course that
i^-oarts no real understanding of science; that
does not excite the creative imagination, and
that rewards only memory and gadgeteering.3
CNM of the most common criticisms encountered was
that the course was too long to be taught effectively in one year.
^William Bsrish, "Reader's Column," Science Teacher ,
26J389, October, 1959.
2 0scar L. Srauer, "Something Dangerously New in
Physics Teaching," Science Education , 57:366, October, 1963.
3Addison K« Lee, "Current Problems in Science Education,"
Science Fducatlon, ij.9:ll4.9* March, 196£.
ost of the indoctrinated teachers never
finished the book and some ^nly pot half way
through* To teach everything in that book
would take all the school time of the student
leaving no time for other studies • *
The Committee's textbook is the largest high school physics
text ever oublished. It has 63U two column pages or text
material on a page size 7»5 inches by 9 inches.
There is a feeling by some that the concepts in the
textbook are too hard even Tor the top twenty-five oer cent
of the high school population.
tfy students remrted that in their opinion,
these volumes (?SSC text) were written by phys-
icists to please themselves and other physicists,
and not for secondary school students. Trie writing
of the text has tended to obscure the facts,
bringing them In a vast sea of explanatory words.
It Is too hard for the students to get at the
imoortant ideas .3
However, another opinion was:
Hy better students (A or B) developed under-
standing of the subject matter much better than
in orevious years. However, the C and B students
aeemed to understand only after detailed expla-
nation. The C and D students understanding was
about as usual, but their appreciation of phvsics
and their attention to detail eeem&d hlgher.M-
*Oscar L, Srauer, "Something T^n^erously New in
Physics Teachinp," Science Fducation , Jj.7:367, October,
Hichard ?. Peynman, "The Relation of Phytlei to
Other Sciences," The Physics Teacher . 3*112* March, 1961;.
3summary of Judgments Made by Teacher," Science
Teacher , 26:£8l, December, 1959.
**Ibid., p. 530.
In view of these opinions one could drew the conclusion
that it Is difficult for the student who does not want to
think or analyze , but not so for the student who is sincerely
Another general view that goos along with the opinion
I the course is hard, is the op in! on that the problems
are too difficult for the majority of students.
The PSSC authors work no problems in the
text and it has very few problems that could
be classed as easy. Some of the problems
even depend on theory developed in chapters
several lhapttN ahead .1
"Many of the problems arc exceedingly difficult and are
insurmountable for many of our students*"
The most effective aspect of the course Is generally
civen by critics as the laboratory experiments.
The laboratory experiments may well be the
most effective aspect of the work of the TB6G
at this point i &nd continued efforts along these
lines "it make a major contribution to the
teaching of ohysics. The emphasis on inexpensive
•qui orient Is, of course, very admirable, even
if not actually as new as claimed. Although
such emphasis is most desirable, it should not
be oermitted to obscure the fact that much
scientific work does require sophisticated
^Oscar L. Brauer, "Something Dangerously New in
Physics Teaching," Science " cation , £7*368, October,
? rold .
3Alexander Calandra, "Some Observations of the Work
of the PSBC 9 m Harvard Educational Review , 29- , Winter,
Another r.enaral criticism of ."ogram i^ that it
tends to stabilize the oresent sequence of science coursei
i.i ol, whic r ally start with General Science
in the ninth grade, biology in the tenth, chemistry in the
eleventh, end physics in the twelfth* This sequence is toe
order of increasing difficulty as these subjects are now
taught. It would appear more sound to present tin science
CMrses in o^der of dependence; thus, since biology depends
to a substantial extent on chemistry, and l -try on
physics, it would n^ear desirable to teach physics first,
chemistry second, and biology last.l
^lmer Hutchison, director of the Ajnerican Institute of
Physics, believes the Con-rittee's course has added a fourth
W 3 W to the list of rearing, writing, and arithmetic. 2 This
fourth "H tt is reasoning and the vehicle for finding Lhis
excellence for acquiring t e skill In precise reaso aim is
physics. "?To secondary fthool education can be sr,ld to be
either liberal or complete without some study of this
important subject. "3 The ability to reason is one of the
Alexander Calandra, M £>ome Observations of the Work
of the ^SSC," '-Tnrvard Ed ucational Review , 29:20, Winter,
2"Plmer Hutchison, "°hysics in Our High Schools,"
The p hysics Teacher , 2*386, November, I96I4. •
3Tbid, 1 p. 385^.
princiole characteristics by which the advancement of a
civilization may be measured. "A truly civilized nation is
one in which the public has a measured confidence in man's
ability to observe nature and to reason from these obser-
vations » nl
Several authorities believe that the most important
and most difficult phase of the Committee's course is for
teachers to learn how to teach the course .^ Because some
teachers are so resistive to change and hate to alter the
routine of their classrooms, the Committee's program is hard
to instill in the teachers* In Indiana, a survey was taken
to determine why teachers did not use the PSBC course. The
reasons priven were as follows:
!• Many teachers use Darts of the orogram.
Usually this means the laboratory exercises. A
few used the PSSC course in the first part for
an advanced physics course. These people have not
attended an institute and for some reason do not
want to identify themselves with our group.
2« Several have said after looking at the
text, they thought it to be too difficult for
their students* Some of these people were skeptical
of the intent of the course since it was associated
with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
3. Some teachers frankly admit they were
unable to teach the course. They do not go to
^Fdward C. Colby, "The New Science Curriculum,"
School Management , 8:87, November, 196ij..
summer Institutes or evening classes because
they have a steady Job paying them as much as
their teaching Job.
[j.* A great many feel they would like to
teach PSSC physics, but they already have four
or five preparations for five or six classes
of thirty to thirty-five students and Just do
not feel they have time to prepare for such
5* There are those few that are really
conservative. Their reasons are obvious .1
Maybe the major lessons to be learned from the whole
^S^C program fall in another category* The Progfan oresents
us with strong evidence that:
1. High school teachers and college
teachers can work together and the experience
is stimulating to both.
2* Subject matter revision should be
made by practicing specialists In a field.
3* High school students will respond
to an intellectual presentation of subject
matter, In which rational thought and analysis
are more i^oort^nt than brute force memory*
[j.. High school teachers, with proper suoport
can teach subject matter far beyond the limits
of what they studied In college*
5* p roper support consists not only
of subject ^atter but of the specialists*
6* An exceptionally favorable method for
providing this kind of supnort is through the
use of teaching films In wh* ^h these specia-
lists are the film personalities, seen and
heard by the students *2
Lawrence Gene Poorman, "Indiana p hysics Teachers
React to PSSC," Science Fducation , 29:171-172, March,
2 Elbert P. Little, "PSSC," Science Educational
Leadership, 17:169, December, 1929*""
One final opinion should be given since this teacher
may have hit at the heart of the oroblem of evaluation of
the O^^rittee's course, as compared to the conventional
course, even if his opinion ir somewhat biased.
If one starts with the oremise that the
aim of a physics course is to oroduce students
who dan aonly neatly boxed equation? to every-
day life, end in this way calculate such quan-
tities as the final temperature of a mixture
of two liquids or determine the focal length
of a l«ai| then the conventional texts will
The second view, if one considers it more
imocrtant to stress the very basic concepts
with s doeper treatment than is customarily
accorded them, and to build up a view of physics
as a modern quantitative science which relies
on experiment, deduction, analysis, and pre-
diction, then the Pftyall ] Science Study Com-
mittee course is the answer. *•
A REVIEW OF RESEARCH |HD STAKJAf IOHS r I CTE7: 0!f
THE PH78ICAI. SCIF^Cn ?T>: rvv COKWIfTFS C
Several statistical studies hpve been conducted since
1957 on the PSSO program. In this section the author will
attempt to show what research studies have been conducted to
determine if the objectives of the Committee's course have
The objectives of the PSSC course have been listed in
a study by Leslie W. Trowbridge. Trowbridge proposed fifty-
*M. to". Frledlander, "Book Reviews," Physics Today ,
15:63, January, 1962»
five objectives of the Committee find confirmed thore objec-
tives by Interviews and -ueationaires with the directors of
the PMC« Trowbridge hop listed sixteen objectives which
are norMc 1 .! ?irly oroo-^ged by the °SSC course and thirty-
nine objectives which are common to both the p S?C course and
the traditional course. M ost of these objectives can be
classified under several general objectives formulated by
Trowbridge. Prim the outhor's wide reading pboMt the aims
and j^oals of the Committee, he determined that the following
eight objectives of Trowbridge are the main objectives the
Committee was tryin^ to achieve in introducing the course.
These objectives are:
1* To emohesize the continuity and unity
?• To encourage students to oreoare for
careers In tho phyaleal sciences.
3. To orenare students for advanced work
in colleges and universities.
lj.« To emohasSze the study of a few major
tonics at considerable deoth.
5. To !*moloy thests as a means of deter-
mining the ability of students to reason to
logical conclusions when working with unfamiliar
To develon the spirit of scientific
7. To teach ohvslce to the typical kind
of hi^h school group which has traditionally
taken high school physic3 in the past.
8. To help students learn techniques of
experimentation in order to find the answers
to 8ll emblems. ^
*• Leslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physles
Courses," Science Education , 1|.9:117-122, March, 1965«
The reoort cent Inn es with a summary of the reeeerch
flndlnps. Then an analysis ie made to determine If the
objectives have or hrve not been reached .
From the very berJnninr, a systematic pnrran of
achievement testing was built Into the development of the
course Itself. The achievement tests t^rere designed to measure
the kinds of learninr eroected of students by the authors of
the course, ^en tests were ?ivcn throughout the year. The
achievement tests measured the extent to which the course
objective? hsd been met, and also served as a criterion
measure ''or ■ self-eooraisnl by the Committee.
Tn 19^-59 the tests wer^ .^iven to see if the following
questions could be answered:
1, Is the group of students enrolled in
the PSSC ^ogram during 19^-£9 representative
of the aotltude level for which the course wu
Is the course generally I ooropriate to
the ability range of students for which the
course was designed?
3» Is the course, as many critics had ore-
dieted, hopelessly beyond the capacity of the
students in the lower aotitudo ranges of those
who normally take ohysics?^
* Frederick L« Ferris, frej "An Achievement Test
Peoort, n Science Teacher , ?6:£?7# December, 1959.
No comoarison of the effectiveness of the Committee 'a
course with other methods of secondary school physics instruc-
tion was contemplated* Fach school was asked to administer
the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) yielding verbal,
quantitative, and composite scores for all Physical Science
Study Committee students and thereby establishing control
on scholastic aptitude for the test group*
As the year progressed the schools administered each
of the tests in the achievement-battery.
Consistent with the aims of the course,
nearly every test situation demanded not
only a knowledge of the subject matter, but
also an ability to use and apoly this know-
ledge in the context of a variety of situ-
ations new to the student.*-
The consensus of teachers giving the test seemed to be
that the tests led to discussion that served to summarize
and clarify the course content and its objectives.
The test reliabilities of all instruments, including
the SCAT test, were satisfactorily high. The mean diffi-
culty of the tests was a little high, but the test did an
excellent job of discrimination as compared to the College
Fntrance Fxamination Board .^
Frederick L. ^erris, Jr., "An Achievement Test
Report, " Science Teacher , 26:5>7o» December, 195)9.
The results of the aptitude testing showed
that 80 per cent of the ?SSC students scored
better than the 7£ oercentile of the national
norms grouD of the United States twelfth grade
students on SCAT. 1
Since the Committee's course was designed for those who gen-
erally rank In the uooer half of their clasp, Ferrls's study
concluded that the test grouD of students enrolled In the
course was essentially reoresentative of the aotltude range
for which the course was designed. ^
A special study was made of the achievement test
results for students in each of three aptitude groups mea-
sured by SCAT. The three groups were: (Jrouo I, students
ranking above the 90th oercentile; Group II, students ranking
between the 90th and 7£tn oercentile; Group III, students
below the 75>th percentile. One striking fact emerged in
that there wa^ a marked overlap In the score distribution of
the respective grouos. A high percentage of students in the
lower aotitud* 1 group performed better on the achievement
tests than the median score of the grouo ranking above the
90th oercentile on SCAT.
^Frederick L. Ferris, Jr.. "An Achievement Test
Reoort," Science Teacher , 26:578, Pecember, 1959*
g Ibid .
Therefore, it Is now possible to exclude
the idea that the Committee f c course is apnro-
oriate only for students of tho highest acadomic
aotitude. 'ihe evidence obtained from tho testing
program overwhelr.ingly points to the conclusion
that* not only is tho course well within the
capability of the great majority of United
States high school ohysics students, but that
experience in it is also highly profitable to
a sizeable oercentap:© of relatively low-
°>ne of the earliest studies conducted on the evalu-
ation of the °hysical Science Study Committee course was done
by Warren L. Hiosher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, i^g investigation
was designed to comoare the relative effectiveness of the
traditional hiirh school physics curriculum and the PSSC physics
curriculum. This v:is accomolished by comparing scores of two
groups of students who took the Coooerative Physics Test, when
the variables of scholastic aotitude, prior achievement in
nat^rnl science, physical science aptitude, and socio-economic
status are statistically controlled.
The exoeriment was carried out over a two year oeriod
at the Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All
students in the school that took hirrh school ohysics during
the 19£7-£o* school were taught using the traditional physics
curriculum. A total of ll|.5> high school seniors were enrolled
■*• Frederick L. Ferris, Jr., "An Achievement Test Report f "
Science Teacher , 26:578, December, 195>9.
2 Warren I#. HiDsher, "A Comparative Study of High
School ^hysics Achievement," (Doctoral Dissertation,
University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960).
In five clflsros. This proup was designated ns the control
grouo. The following school veer, 195G*59| five classes of
13l|. high school seniors completed the course c'evelooec by the
Committor, which we s designated st thr exoerlmental group.
The seme teacher was used in ee^h of the different groups.
Form Z, the latest revision of the Co^oera 5ve ^hysics
Test, wes used to measure the l?vel of achievement in physics
of the students. This test was actually based on the objec-
tives of the traditional course. The objectives of the
authors of the Committee's n rorran, however, were different
from the objectives of those who had shaped the traditional
physics course. Consequently, a test which measured achieve-
ment thst was exoected to result from the use of the tradi-
tional course would not be comoletely applicable for measuring
achievement of the Committee's course.
Nevertheless most colleges and universities
were and are oriented toward traditional ohysics
in their introductory course in college physics.
Thus the preoaretion of hi^h school (rr^duates to
succeed in a traditional physics curriculum at
the collepe level mln-ht be one of the e:*oec-
tations and requirements that might be postulated
for any hiph school ohysics or' ir *^"m.2
^Warren L. Hipsher, *M Comoarative Study of Hich
School ^hysics Achievement^' (Doctoral Dissertation,
University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960.) o. 9«
? IMd., o. I4..
Thus the decision was made to use the Cooperative p hysics
In the statistical analysis the effect of the fol-
lowing four variables were taken into account when comparing
scores on the Cooperative ^hysics Test. Scholastic aptitude
was measured by the Gamma Form of the Otis Quick-Scoring
Mental Ability Test. Prior achievement in natural science
was tested by the General Achievement Test in Natural Science,
"'hysical science aotitude was measured by the Engineering and
Physical Science Aptitude. To establish the socio-economic
level of each of the students, the North-Hatt Scale was used.
The analysis of covarianees was used to test the
following null -hypothesis :
There is no differ- nee in the achievement of
the control and the experimental groups in their
response to the criterion, the Cooperative Physics
Test, when the variables of scholastic aotitude,
prior achievement in natural science, physical science
aptitude and socio-economic status are statistically
The null -hypo the sis was rejected and the findings of
the investigation indicated that students taught physics
using the traditional hip-h school physics curriculum per-
formed significantly better on the Cooperative Physics
^Warren L. Hiosher, "A Comparative ?tudy of High
School Physics Achievement ," (doctoral Pissertation, University
of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, I960.), p. I4.9.
Test, than students taught high school physics using the
curriculum developed hy the ^SSC. In light of their Inves-
tigation a question has been raised relative to the effec-
tiveness of the Committee's course in Preparing students
for traditionally oriented courses in college physics*
Robert W. Heath of the Fducational Testing Service
developed a new test which he felt was able to test the
objectives of the Committee. This test was called the
Cognitive ^reference Test.*- This tost presented a state-
ment with four ootions designed to demonstrate different
forms of cognitive preference in ohysics. One option was
to show preference for memory of specific facts or terms.
Another orovided a practical application of the information
given in the statement. A third choice reflected some
challenging or questioning of the information given The
fourth option was a statement of fundamental principle of
nhys ics underlying the data. The purpose of this test was to
comoare PSSC classes and conventional physics classes with a
reference to the four cognitive oreferences.
The population was made uo of forty-nine teachers
and their classes using the traditional course and thirty
^Robert W. Heath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and
Fducational Measurement," Educational and Psychological
Measurement, 2k: 239-53* Summer, 196l(..
teachers and their classes using the ''SSC course. The control
group was designated as the traditional physics clashes.
All students in both groups took the followinr tests:
1. The School and College Ability Test, °art I, II, and
Form 1A for scholastic aptitude.
2. The Coooerative n hysics Test, Form Z for a traditionally
oriented comorehensive examination.
3. The P SSC Comorehensive Final Fxamination.
I+. The Concealed Figures Test to measure the ability to
change the function or significance of structural elements
of an object and to use them in a new way.-*-
Table I shows how the students scored on the dif-
ferent tests. The 3 SSC grouo, on the average, demonstrated
less preference for menory of specific facts and for oractical
aoolication ootions In the Cognitive '"'reference Test, and a
stronger ^reference for the questioning of assumption and a
statement of fimdamental principles option than the control
grouo. The ^SSC groups are, on the average, superior in
ability as measured by SCAT. The control group performed
slightly better on the conventional achievement test but
the °SSC group is much superior on the PSSC test. The °SSC
^Robert W. Heath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and
Fducationrl J'easvrement," Educational and Psychological
Measurement , 2\± : ?lj.f>-2l}.6 , Summer, 1961^. '
QUI? ST' T r CS W °SSC in CONTROL CiROO P|
M oan Standard
^Robert W. rteath, "Curriculum, Cognition, and
Fducationsl ^e8Puremont, ,, Fducstlonal and Psychological
*-.eagure^nt, 24:247, Summer, 196Ij..
grouos wore also higher on the Concealed Plngures Test. The
possibility that the difference In cognitive preference can
be accounted for by differences in ability was tested and
Based on the orooosition that the PSSC hip-h school
physios course has an objective of encouraging cognitive
preferences different from tho traditional course, the fol-
lowing hypotheses wore tested, and were accented:
1* that ~S?.C students demonstrate a stronger
reference for fundanental principles and ques-
tioning than non-PS BO students*
?.m that non- *"' ~ ifc Santl orefer m&mW f for
facts find practical application %% a greater
degreo than PSSC student a J
3« that preference for fundamental orinci ^les
and questioning Is rcore positively related to
ac liaraaant test scores for PSSC students than
for the control gVOttpj and
km that ^reference for facts anc terms &nd
for practical application Is more negatively
related to achievement test aoores for PSSC
atudenta than for control (VOttp students.^
One of the most recent research studies concerning
the P8S€ was done by Wtlliem W. T>ay to deternine if a rela*
tionehin exists bet«ean the amount and tyoe of physics tak^n
by a pupil rid his critical thinking ability •
^Robert W« Heath, " Curriculum, Cognition, and
Fducwtionr.l 'aasurement," Educational and Psychological
Measurement , P!j.:?i|7, Sumner, 196I|.
? md # , p. 251.
3willlam w. r a y, ""hysics sn6 Critical Thinking: A
Comparison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary of
doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska, June, 1961+) .
A test population consisting of three groups was
selected from thirteen Colorado secondary schools and con-
tained 890 individuals* The grouos were divided as follows:
the ?SSC group comprised 2S oer cent of the total population,
the traditional physics group comprised 29 per cent of the
total pooulation, and the no-physics group comprised ij.6 per
cent of the total population. "All three groups were equated
on the basis of intelligence; achievement; course background
in Fnglish, mathematics, social studies, and science; and
mobility." The evaluative instruments used as a basis of
critical thinking were the Watson-Glaeer Critical Thinking
Appraisal, form XM f and Logical Reasoning, form A.
A questionaire was given to the students whose
teachers taught both the P SSC and traditional courses and
this questionaire revealed a distinct difference in accep-
tance of the physics courses and students 1 attitudes toward
science. On a question asked about the course being up to
the students* expectations, the D SSC students answered "no"
by ^1 ner cent; whereas, the Traditional students answered
n yes tt by 82 per cent. A question about the method of
iwilliam w. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A
Comparison of P SSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary
of Poctoral rissertatlon, University of Nebraska, June,
presentation Indicates the 79 oer cent of the PSSC group
were not pleased with the presentation; while 61 per cent
of the Traditional group felt the oresentation was satisfactory.
The students were tested for the following asoects of
critical thinking; inference, deduction, interpretation,
logical reasoning, total critical thinking appraisal, assump-
tion, and argument. Inference, deduction, interpretation,
logical reasoning and total critical thinking critical aporai-
sal are all significant at the 1 oer cent level, while assump-
tion and argument ere significant et the J per cent level."
An examination of Table II reveals that the ^SSC
mean is higher than the traditional mean in all but one of
the categories of critical thinking tested, this being the
assumption category. n The difference between the PSSC group
and the Traditional grouo, as well as the Traditional group
end the no-ohysies eroup, is much less than the difference
between the PSSC group and the No-Physics group #"-* 3y
adding the differences between the PSSC and the Traditional
groups and the Traditional and No-Physics group, it can be
iwilllam W. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A
Comoarison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (A summary
of Toctoral Fissertation, University of Nebraska, June,
1961;), p. 12.
2 Ibld «, p. 13.
3 Ibid., p. 15.
ANALYSES OP THE NO -PHYSICS, TRADITIONAL
PHYSICS, AND PSSC PHYSICS,
WITH SEVEN DIFFERENT CATEGORIES
Difference measured in
lOOths of a unit with
the lowest score as base
l I A
^William W. Day, "Physics and Critical Thinking: A
Comparison of PSSC and Traditional Physics," (Summary of
Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska,
June, 1961+) p. llj..
seen that the difference between the P SSC and Traditional
groups Is ebout ^ne end one half times la rger than the em-
ulative difference between the Traditional and No-Phye^cs
The following were the conclusions made by the
1. Students who take P8SC nhyslcs exhibit a
greater ability to solve critical tninkiw? orob-
lems than do those students who do not take
physics* as measured by the evaluative instruments.
2. The results also sucgest an advantage
of P8S€ physics over Traditional physics in
developing critical thinking ability and an
advantage of Traditional physics students over
students who do not take ohyslcs is measured
by the evaluative instruments* These differ-
ences were not tested statistically for sig-
3. The results of the study support the
conclusion that of the small sub-population
of ?SSC and Traditional students whose instruc-
tor taught both ?SSC and Traditional sections
of ohyslcs , the p SSC physics students h&ve a
negative attitude toward the course, when
compared to the Traditional students. The
Traditional students were not only more
positive In nttitude toward their course
but were also more positive in the areas
of interest in science and science activities.
!i* The school population is highly
mobile and college bound. •
One of the first ideas that enters the researchers
mind when considering the °SSC course, is what are the
William W. Pay, "^hysies end Critical Thinking: A
Comparison of n SSC znd Traditional Physics, (a sumnary of
Poctoral Pissertation, University of Nebraska, June,
196^), pp. 1^-16.
objectives of the Committee* Leslie W. Trowbridge did
research on the comparison of the objectives of the MM
and a Tradition*! nhvsics course* 1 He developed a composite
list of seventy-two objectives , sone which were unique to
the PSSC course, some to the traditional course, and some
eo-r^on to both courses* '3 his be sent to various high school
physics teachers to have them indicate what they thought
were tho main objectives of both courses*
>n>? the objectives on which the PS80 teachers and,
teachers of traditional courses differed significantly
were the following:
1* To help the student become a more
Intel 1 Lgftitt 90 tubuses 1 of |ha n ^s of
2a To teach the ap >lloation ft! ibyj ice
princioles to rrofarn technology and to
devices SOWOfl in the life of the student*
3* To cover the requirements of standard
state and looftjl syllabi ond examination*
k» To use a textbook which helps students
retail) learned inf^r^nti-jn by uee of eumn'ar'ra**
glossaries, tables, list of conclusions, etc*
^. o use laboratories to verify facts and
orinciples of ohysics*
6* To eriphasJ-ze or*ct5cal On-lish) units
of measurement *2
The six objectives listed above were favored signi-
ficantly by the traditional teachers ov«r PSSC teachers*
^Leslie W* Trowbridge, *l Conv^p.rieon of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two lyp&t of High School Physics
Courses," Science Education , lj.9Jll7-12?, 'arch, 196$.
2 Xbld*_. p. 120.
The following objectives were favored significantly by
PSSC teachers over teachers of traditional courses I
1. To emphasize the intellectual* cultural,
and liberal education aspects of physics.
2. To develop an understanding of the pur-
poses, uses, development, and limitations of
scientific "Theories" in general •
3« To teach some of the imoortant historical
and ohilosophical developments of physics.
)4.« To emphasize that physicists are typical
people of academic life with typical human
5. To emphasize the major concents and
principles of physics mainly from the stand-
point of their contributions to physics as a
pure science rather than an applied science.
6. To emphasize the study of a few major
tooics at considerable depth*
7. To emphasize the method of laboratory
investigation for learning.
8. To emphasize the understanding and use
of Dhysical approximations and models in helping
to explain theoretical concepts.!
A research study, conducted aporoximately like
the Trowbridge study, has been done on the generalizations
of the PSSC course. Pate D« Rathe proposed an investigation:
1. To identify and state subject matter
physics generalizations which are preliminary to
and basic for those found in PSSC physics and
2* To seek, through the opinions of PSSC
high school instructors, the relative desir-
ability of students attaining these generali-
zations prior to taking the PSSC high school
physics course .2
^Leslie W. Trowbridge, n A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics
Courses," Science Education , lj.9:121, March, 1965*
2pate D« Rathe, "Certain Physics Generalizations
Desirable for Student to Attain Before Taking the PSSC
High School Physics Course," Science Education , 14.9:128,
Two hundred twenty-three generalizations were listed
and twenty-three selected teachers were used to find out if
they believe these generalizations were stressed by the ^SSC
course* The following conclusions were develooed:
1* One hundred thirty-four of these
generalizations showed relatively high
desirability for students to attain before
taking P88C ohysics*
2* Generalisations showinc relatively
high desirability for students to attain
before taking PSSC physics relate mainly
to topics of matter* magnetism, and some
asoeots of light and energy*
3* Generalizations showing relatively
low desirability for students to attain
before taking PSSC physics relate mainly
to topics of waves* dynamics* and some
asoects of light and energy.
!j.. This investigation indicated dis-
agreement among college and high school
physics teachers as to a) the ability of
certain science terms to convey a fairly
accurate scientific meaning and b) how
accurately quantitative relationships
should be expressed for pre-PSSC science
A research study was completed on the local level
in Grossmont, California* 2 The purpose of the study was to
answer the following questions before edootlng the PSSC
l ;:> ate T. Rathe. "Certain Physics Generalizations
Desirable for Student to Attain Before Taking the P SSC
High School Physics Course," Science Education . lj.9:128,
? Leon M. Lessinger, "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics, n
California £gujpnal c 'idary Education , 37:97-99*
1. What contribution*! would the new
progrem yr.ake in the educational life of the
pu->ile not now being made by the traditional
?. Would ell oralis co^i only electing
physics be a^le to handle the subject matter?
3» What would the reaction be from
pupils, orrpnts, teachers, btio administrators?
I±* Would the coarse cause lower rrj&rks
earned by the pupils?
5>* What weaknesses were there in the
urogram which Right require reraerilatlve
The research Dlan, selected to answer the above
questions, wes to have five of the six schools teach the
PSSC program while the sixth school taught the traditional
course. The Otis test of general intelligence, P8SC tests,
and a test produced by the teachers of the district were
administered to all ouoils* ouestionaires and rating sheets
were developed to obtain oupil, parent, teacher, and admin-
istrator reaction to the program*
The results may be summarized as follows:
1. Pupils stated that they experienced
marked growth in their understanding of ohysics*
They were particularly favortible towards their
Increased ability to see relationships, judge
the usefulness of facts, and the oooortunity
to experiment and use Ideas*
^Leon R« Lessinger, "An "valuation of PSSC Physics,"
California Journal of Secondary Educ ation , 37s97« February,
2« The parents general reaction was
favorsbl© 5 they stressed, in Derticular, the
contribution of the program in their youngs vera
ability to think independently*
3» Teachers and administrators felt that
the pv- f .:ram not yny- tau-ht ohysics but el so
helped toe pupils learn to think* A by-product
of the program war I more Insi^htf .1 under-
standing of Physics by the teachers themselves*
U» The raarka B&rned, as well ae the actual
performance of the pupils of oomoerable ability*
on the PS5C and traditional physics tests do not
support the thesis that the PSSC program is either
harder to grass or more difficult to succeed in
than the traditional program,
!?• ^SSC pupils were not penalized in their
understanding of classical nhysics when com arod
to the pupils or comparable ability taking the
traditional progras i in the district •
6. The California sample of PSSC pupils
did better, statistically, on one of the HMO
tests and significantly better on two of the
five ?3SC tests than the New York Stat© sample*
?• Weaknesses in the program, center
mainly around the text material, tin© allotted
for laboratory and previous preparation of the
iile in the mathematics*!
Some of the studies reviewed have tried to compare the
PSSC course and the tradtl nal course* The major problem
in this tyoo of evaluation will be realistic only if the
nature and objectives of the co.-rsa are talren into account*
This is one reason it Is practically impossible to ccmoare
and tralnate bin rOsmitt*e*S physics course zn6 the tradi-
tional pnysiea course* fhs complexity of this problem led
the Oollege Board to authorise a special study to determine
3- La on H* Lesslnfter* "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics,
California Journal of Secondary Fducation , 37:97- 9,
February* l%g* *
the extent of tic ha -.d leaps of the PSSC physics students
on the College Entrance Examination Board Physics Vest.
The results she i the validity of the traditional evaluative
instrument vr.s questionable for both types of courses*
Consequently, they ha e reverted to a single examination
consisting of ouotrtlont involving both co r:;c: f study.
mother major problem in evaluating a new courte
such as the °S£C is the difficulty to cetermine whether the
differences are die to variables which are being evaluated
or whether the differences exist due to some other variable
which has not been takoE into consideration.
Prom the research studies reviewed, the author will
attemot to indicate which objectives have or have not been
reached. For some of these objectives it will be possible
to compare the P SSC and traditional students. In such cases
If the scores on a test indicate that the PSSC grouo did
significantly better than the traditional group, then the
author will assume that the objective has hsen reached.
Objective number one, "to euphasize the continuity
and unity o r pfcyales"* and objective number two, "to
encourage students to oreonre for careers in the Physical
sciences, * c are the only two objectives that are given
Leslie V« Trowbridge, W A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics
Courses, n Science F&icatlon , 49*117-122, March, 196£.
where the research studies failed to Indicate whether or not
these objectives have been reached.
Hipsher f s research study on the cor arison of the
PSSC course and the traditional course seems to indicate
that objective number three, "to prepare students for advanced
work in college and universities,"! has not been reached.
Hipsher has shown this by comparing test scores of studentB
of both the PSSC course and the traditional course who took
the Cooperative Physics Test. These test scores showed the
traditional students significantly higher than the °SSC
students. This Cooperative Physics Test is designed to mea-
sure the level of achievement and the ability of students
to succeed in an introductory college physics course. How-
ever, as Hipsher has commented, the Cooperative p hysics Test
is designed for the traditionally oriented student because
most of the introductory college courses are taught like the
traditional ohysics course. 3ecause of this the student in
the traditional course may have had an advantage over the
students in the ^SSC course.
Trowbridge's study, conducted by sending questionaires
1 Leslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School Physics
Courses," Science Fducatlon, 1^9:117-122, March, 1965>.
to teachers, indicates that objective number four, "to
emohasize the study of a few major topics at considerable
depth, ■• has been reached. This was shown by the fact that
this was one of the objectives favored significantly by
PSSC teachers over teachers of traditional courses. The
author is asFuminrr that because this objective obtained a
Msrher rating from PSSC teachers that this objective has
Objective number five, to determine the ability of
students to reason to logical conclusions when working with
unfamiliar data, has been reached and verified by Heaths
study and by Pay's study. This is shown in Heath's study
by the 3 SSC group getting higher scores on the Concealed
Flcrurea Test than the traditional group. The Concealed
Fiprures Test is designed to measure the ability of students
to change t^e function of structural elements of en object
and use them in a new way. In Day's study this is shown by
the PSSC croup scoring higher scores on the items, logical
reasoning and deduction on the Watson-Clazer Critical Thinking
On the basis of Heath's study and Lessinger's study
objective number six, "to develoo the spirit of scientific
lLeslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional "aterisl in Two Types of High School Physics
Courses," Science Education, 1^.9:117-122, March, 1965.
inquiry, ■* has been readied. In Leseinger's study, conducted
in Grossri nt, California, he shows that the objective has
been reached by stnting that the study showed the pupils who
were taking the PSSC course showed more growth in their under-
standing of relationships and the opportunity to experiment
and use ideas as compared to a traditional ohysics grouo.
death's study also shows this objective has been reached by
showing the PSSC gFoap scored higher than the traditional
group on the Cognitive Preference Test items, "questioning
3f information given" and "fundamental principles of physics
underlying the data".
Objective number seven, "to teach physics to the
tyoical kind of high school group which has traditionally
taken hirh school physics in the past," has been reached.
This is shown by the Ferris study and the Les singer study.
One of the main purposes of the achievement test given to
the PSSC grouD in Perris*s study was to determine if this
objective hnd been reached. This was shown by the results of
the aptitude test in that -ost of the students taking PSSC
course scored in the upper 25> percentile of the national
norms crrouD of the United States' twelfth grade students
^Leslie V. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material In Two Tyoes of High School Physics
Courses," Science Education , lj.9 Jll7-1?2» March, 1965*
on Iff* The Committee believed that the atudentc who
traditionally took physics were in the upper 2$ percentile
on the national norms c • Therefore, in tl is's Judr-
nient, this study indicated that tho st-: dents vr'.io enrolled in
the PSSC course are representative of the aptitude ran^e for
which the course was designed. He also believes that I
res on the achievement tests indicate that the R88C
students achieved tho level of cometency In physics that the
Committee had ori inally taq ccted of then, This objective
is alEO v rifled in Lesrlngcr's study by the fact that the
marks earned, as veil as the classroom performance of the
pupils in the study, support the objective thst the
rse is designed to be taught to the students who generally
&*eath*s study tn Day*! study verify that the last
objective, *fcs help students learn techniques of experiijen-
totion in order to find the answer to a problem,* 2 has been
reached. Heath's study determined if this objective had been
reached by comparing the score* of the PSSC group and the
traditional rroup on tho Cognitive ^reference Test for the
^Frederick L. Ferris, "An Achievement Test Report,"
Science Teacher , 26:£77, December, 1959*
Leslie W» T^ovbridcre, "^ Conpsrlson of the Objectives
and Instruction terial in Two Ty?>es of Hi~h School Physics
Courses," Science Education , IJ.9J117-122* March, 196£.
choices "qu^ftlonlftg of information givta" nnd "fundamental
nrioetoles of obysics nndtrljl lg the data". The scores
showed the PMC rrouo ranked significantly hi -her than the
traditional crouo. ray's study verified that the lfttt objec-
tive had been reached by observing the hirher scores earned
by the p SSC group over the traditional group on the test
Items deduction and Interpretation on the Watson-Glazer
Critical Thinking Aooraisal.
SUMNARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This renort w«?e conducted in or< > r to <»lve a com-
plete summary and compilation of all evaluations that have
been Wtda about the Physical Science Study Committee high
school physics course* The ^SSC course was designed to
answer a lonr-gtandinf feeling of dissatisfaction with the
crerent teaching of ohysics in the hi^h school. The P8SC
designed a completely new hi^h school ohysics course inclu-
ding ■ new textbook, laboratory galdt* set of inexpensive
aonaratus, n- mber of films, standardized tests, series of
paoorback books, end a teacher's guidebook. The aim of this
material was to develop In he students a deeoer under-
standing of the meaning of science by teaching the student
to develop hie critical thinking ability. The Committee 'a
aooroach was that selected topics are diecui. jed in great
detail, with each tooic Itadlag to greater generalizations
and constant reference to exoerimental observation.
There has boen wide and varied ooinion about the
^SSC program. The most frequently listed shortcomings of
the course are the following:
1« The text is difficult to read and lacks generally
the easier drill tyoe oroblems that bridge the gar> between
first contact with an idea and some mastery of it.
2. Practical «o^li cations are lacking in the course*
3. The quantity of subject matter is substantially more
than can be thoroughly covered by a normal class in one year.
[4.. A large quantity of the subject matter in the
course as well as the suggested method of presentation, is
unfamiliar to most high school physics teachers.
The advantages of the co .rse usually listed Include
1. The laboratory phase of the program is generally
2. The students are guided to understand the way a
physicist learns by using logical deductions and creative
3. Physics is both a body of knowledge and an activity.
The orosram unfolds this dual nature of science to the students.
l\.» The students come away from the course, understanding
the general orinciples better than they would have in a tradi-
5. The Committee 1 * program foresees every need of the
teacher in providing all the necessary items for a comolete
high school physics course*
■valuation has been attempted and has oroduced some
insight into the oroblems confronted. A number of group
comparative evaluations have been completed In the high
school oertaining to the Committee's ohysics and traditional
nhysics co -rses.
The studies reviewed indicate that most of the main
objectives first set up by the Committee have been reached*
The objectives reached are:
l±* To emohasize the study of a few
major topics at considers le depth.
£• To employ tests as a means of
determining the ability of students to
reason to iocical conclusions when working
with unfamiliar data.
6. To develop the spirit of scientific
7» To teach ohysics to the typical kind
of high school grouo which has traditionally
taken high school physics in the oast.
8. To help students learn techniques
of exoerimentation in order to find the
answer to a problem.!
The research studies olso Indicate that the objective
"to orepare students for advanced work in college and universities, "
esoecially for the traditionally oriented colleges coarse, may
not have been reached.
The research studies reviewed did not Indicate whether
iLeslie W. Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two Types of High School ^hysics
Courses," Scfe nee Education, J±9:117-122, March, 196£.
the objective "to emphasize the continuity and unity of
physics,"* and "to encourage students to ore pare for careers
in the physical sciences, "^ had or had not been reached.
Observed from the point of view of educational research
the P SSC program offers -rany problems for further study, but
there is no denying that the way bai been opened to make
physics a far more valuable part of the high 10 »ol curriculum.
The achievements of this new coarse should
serve to reralnc educators what they are often
prone to forget, that In physics, and also in
every other academic discipline, there lies
resources for the solutions of educational
oroblems which are usually neglected.^-
The author believes if the ?SSC course is to be a
total success, the ori-nary concern must be to obtain the
cooperation of the high school science teacher. He and his
students are the customers for this product. The teacher
must try out the program, qt\6 measure carefully its triumphs
and its failures. The teacher must keep a constant feedback
flowing to the physicists, the educators, the editors, the
film oroducers, the designers of apparatus, and all those
who are seeking to out the course together. If the course
^•Leslie V* Trowbridge, "A Comparison of the Objectives
and Instructional Material in Two 'iypes of Sigh School Physics
Courses," Science Education , lj.9:117-122, March, 1965).
3 J. A. Easley, Jr., "The Physical Science Study Committee
and Educational Theory," Harvarc Educational Review , 29:11,
Is to succeed In the classroom and in the classroom alone,
Its final form mist In the end be determined by the closrroonw
Because of the need for a greater understanding of
science, the ^SSC course was developed. This does not mean
that the P S£C course is the only possible approach to the
teachinr of ohyslcs» Under way at the prasont time is another
project that is being developed for the teachinr of high school
-sics. This project is being done at Harvard University,
called the harvard °ro,1oct» If man is to continue to live
successfully in a scientific world, there is a constant need
for physics teaching and the teachings of all sciences to
be contemoorary with the times.
Kelly, W. C Survey of ^du est Ion In "'hyelcs In Universities
of the United State-T il New YorTr: American Institute
o7 ""hysics, l<?Wr
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r. C. Heath and Company, I960 •""
Arons, ft. B. "The Mew Hlch School ^hysics," 'hyslcs Today ,
13:20-25, June, 1960.
Barish, William. "Reader f s Column," Science Teacher ,
26:3*9, October, 1959.
Erauer, ^scar L. "Something fsngerously New in Physics
Teaching," Science Teacher , U7:365-72, October, 1963.
. "Attempts to Tnorove High School ^hysics Education,"
"Science Question , l;7:372-76, October, 1963.
Calandra, Alexander. "Some Observations of the Work of the
P SSC," Harvard Fducatlonal Review , 29:19-22, Winter,
• "What's Wronp with Them?," School Management t
BT75*83i November, 196lj..
Colby, Fdward G. "The New Science Curriculums," School
Management , 8:83-88, November, 1961j..
Cowan, ^aul J. "An Autoinstructional Program in PSSC
Physics for Small Schools," American Journal of
Physics , 32:79, October, 196!j..
Crane, H. R. "Creative Thinking and Fxoerimenting," American
Journal of Physics , 28:14.37-^3, May, I960.
Peall, Louis and Lawrence Badar. "Preparatory Curriculum
for PSSC and ?ther Physics Programs," American Journal
of Physics , 31:1814.-90, March, 1963.
r asley, J. 4. "The Physical Science Study Committee and
Educational Theory," Harvard Educational Review ,
29:lj.-ll, Winter, 1959.
Finlay, Gilbert C. "Physical Science Study Committee: A
Status Rcoort," So 3 > net Teacher , 2lj.:571i.-76, December,
i "Secondary School Physics: Physical Science Study
Committee," erican Journal or Physics , 28:286-93*
"The Physical Science Study Committee," School
Review , 70:63-^1, Soring, 1962.
. "What Are the Puestions," Science Teacher ,
5TjT32 7 -29, November, 1957.
Ferris, Frederick L. *Al Achievement Test Reoort," Science
Teacher , 26*576-79, December, 1959.
. "The Physical Science Study Committee: Will It
Succeed?," Harvard retentional Review , 29:29-32, V/inter*
Friedlander, K« W. "Book Reviews," ^hysics Today , 15:61-63,
Friedman, Francis L. "A Blueprint," Science Teacher ,
2J+: 320-23, November, 1957.
Heath, Robert W. "Curriculum, Cognition, and Educational
v eesurement," Educational rnd Psychological Measurement ,
2^}.: 239-53* Summer, 196>|.
Hipsher, Warren L. "Study of Hi,^h School Physics Achievoment,"
Science ueacher , 28:36-67* October, 1961.
Hutchison, Flmer. "Physics in Our Hirrh Schools," The
p hysics Teac ior , 2:385-86, November, I96J4..
Jance, Randolph. "The Six New Science Currlculuma," School
Management , 7:63, June, 1963.
John, Rev, Richard T. "The Use of PSSC Physics in Kinor
Seminaries," National Catholic Educational Association
Bulletin , 57:75, August, 1960.
Klofer, Leo F. "The Physics Course of the Physical Science
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Knauss, Harold P. "Physics for Secondary Schools." American
Journal of Physics , 26:37Q-$0, September, 195°.
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Science Education , l4.9:li|.6-5l» March, 1965.
Lesslnger, Leon K 9 "An Evaluation of PSSC Physics,"
California Jc rnal of Secondary Education , 37:97-99*
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Little, Flbert P. "A Commentary," flarvard Educational
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. "A Mew ".o has is on the 'Tow 1 of Physics," Nation's
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. " n S£C: A Physloi Pro gran," Educational Leadership ,
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for* Stud«ntl to Attain Before Taking the Physical Science
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and Mathematics, Kansas State Department of Public
Instruction, Topeka, Kansas.
A RffTXEM i KB
PHYSICAL SCI&NCB SWOT COMMITT1
high school raraxca cour.-
M r W. rAESC^NFl
B.S., Raker University, 1961;
AN ABSTRACT ^F \ TS R^?")RT
submitted in martial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree
MASTER OF SCIFNCF
College of Fducstion
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
The threefold puroose of this study was to answer the
1* Why and how was the Physical Science Study Committee
high school ohysics course developed?
2. What are the ooinione of teachers and educators
concerning the course?
3* Are the objectives formulated by the Committee for
t^e course being achieved?
The procedure emoloyed in this study was to review the
oertinent literature concerning the PSSC course located at
Kansas State University, Kansas University library, and obtained
through interl'brary loans, and various sources obtained through
correspondence. This investigation produced a considerable
amount of information oertaining to the PSSC course which was
organized into the following categories:
1. Background and develooment of the PSSC course.
2. Ooinions of teachers and educators on the effec-
tiveness of the PSSC course.
3« Research studies to determine the effectiveness
of the PSSC course.
2|.« Summary and conclusion.
It was found that the P SSC course was a multimillion
dollar orogram designed for the revision of high school physics.
The D SSC develooed for this course: a textbook, laboratory wide
and a set of new and inexpensive sooaratus, a large number of
films, standardized tests, a growing series of paoerback books,
and a teacher's guidebook.
The PSSC course was designed to tell a unified story-
one in which the successive topics are chosen and developed
to lead toward an atomic oicture of natter* The student is
exoected to be an active oarticioant in the course, and use
deduction and logical reasoning to develop the fundamental
The main criticisms against the Committee's course are
1) oractical applications are lacking, 2) the course is too
long to cover in one year, and 3) it is difficult to read and
lacks the easier drill tyoe problems. The advantages of the
course are usually listed as 1) the laboratory experiments are
outstanding, 2) the students are guided to use deductive and
creative thinking when solving problems, and 3) the students
understand the general principles better than they would in
a traditional course.
The research studies reviewed seem to indicate that
most of the objectives first orooosed by the Committee have